THE two owners of a St Ives pizza business face a court bill for more than £6,000 after they ignored food safety officers’ advice for nearly a year.

Vesuvio Pizza, in The Broadway, is still in operation, but only because it is being run by a manager.

Both Emre Karahan and Mr Ibrahim Karagoz were banned from operating any food business, and each was fined £2,000 after admitting food hygiene and health and safety offences and ordered to pay £1,000 prosecution costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

Karahan pleaded guilty to 12 food hygiene offences, including non-compliance with a hygiene improvement notice, and two health and safety offences. Karagoz pleaded guilty to 11 food hygiene offences and two health and safety offences.

The breaches were witnessed during an inspection by, Huntingdonshire District Council environmental health protection officer Belinda Betham on April 2 this year after officers had spent over 100 hours visiting the business, 12 times in 11 months, giving advice that went unheeded, the court in Huntingdon heard.

Mrs Betham found poor standards of cleaning and disinfection, cross contamination risks, no documented food safety management system, unsupervised food handlers with no food hygiene training, high-risk buffets being delivered to customers unrefrigerated in the back of a car, unsafe electrical appliances and staff being exposed to a risk of slips and trips in the premises.

Following the inspection the premises was issued with a food hygiene rating of zero, meaning that urgent improvement was necessary.

The magistrates also imposed a prohibition order on both defendants that prohibits them from participating in the management of any food business until an application is made to the court to lift the order.

The court said it was issuing the order in the interests of public health as the defendants had shown that they did not run their business in accordance with food hygiene requirements despite having been given extensive advice on how to do so.

In addition, both defendants pleaded guilty to offences under the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989 and the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992.

Dr Susan Lammin, head of environmental and community health services at the council, said afterwards: "We always try to work alongside food businesses and offer advice and support to ensure high standards are maintained for food safety: prosecutions are rare.

"In this case there were clearly some very serious issues, and public health and safety come first. The court has acknowledged the seriousness of this case and has exercised its powers to impose the prohibition on the food business operators."